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Press review: How Turkey’s gas hub could help Russia and what awaits Urals crude pricing

Top stories from the Russian press on Monday, November 14th

Izvestia: Chances for Ukraine peace talks at Bali-hosted G20 summit revealed

Russian and EU delegates can discuss European security issues within the context of the Ukrainian crisis, including the situation at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, a diplomatic source from an EU country told Izvestia, noting that negotiations between delegations at the G20 are appropriate only for substantive topics. Recently, Spain’s top diplomat reported that Europe was ready to return to dialogue with Moscow and many media outlets indicated that the West was considering a peace settlement on Ukraine.

Russian International Affairs Council Director General Andrey Kortunov thinks that an exchange of opinions may take place but not on settling the Ukraine crisis.

"Russia’s dialogue with the West on the sidelines of the G20 summit is possible on food security issues. A multilateral dialogue on energy security is also possible since energy markets are global in nature so Russia’s position affects their dynamics one way or another. A discussion on reforming the international financial system with Western states is also possible," he told Izvestia. In his opinion, talks on Ukraine are hardly likely since the West does not want to touch on these issues without Kiev’s participation and the expert does not think that this stance will change.

"I don’t feel that the G20 summit is a venue where talks on settling the situation in Ukraine can be held, on any track whatsoever. It is obvious that Russia and the US will discuss substantive issues among themselves beyond the Group of Twenty and even the UN," Program Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club Timofey Bordachev told the newspaper.

"At the previous G20 meeting, there wasn’t much space for talks. Sergey Lavrov gave a presentation and left. It is possible that some talks will happen this time but they are not likely to be effective since the West’s and Ukraine’s obvious goal to wear down Russia did not go anywhere," Program Director at the Valdai Discussion Club Oleg Barabanov noted.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Gas hub in Turkey to allow Russia to keep part of European market

Moscow has four years to decide on its participation in the international gas hub being formed in Turkey, which theoretically may help Russia preserve at least some share of the European market. Experts say that this is precisely the time period global manufacturers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) need to complete the new investment cycle in order to fully replace Russian gas. That said, gas may have to be sold at a reduced price since it would become "Turkish" upon being mixed with Azerbaijani or Iranian fuel in order not to put off potential customers. Turkish officials are already holding talks with their Russian colleagues while the head of state said that the prices would be determined by the hub’s participants.

In order for the price to be formed in Turkey, the hub should have other suppliers besides Russia, political scientist and economist Aydin Sezer, Turkey’s former trade representative to Russia explained. "It is not possible to be a hub or a central country only with Russian gas. Turkey needs to mobilize other gas resources, especially TANAP," he noted. "The precondition for this is Russia recognizing Turkey’s right to re-export natural gas. Thus, European countries which cannot buy gas from Russia because they cannot pay in rubles, will deal with Turkey," the expert explained.

"The main issue of creating a gas hub in Turkey is not a technical one. In addition to Russian, Azerbaijani and Iranian gas, fuel from northern Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Central Asian countries may be delivered to the country under certain conditions. The main issue is how ready Europe will be to buy this impersonal or ‘Turkish’-labeled mix at the hub while everyone would realize that there is a substantial Russian component," Stanislav Mitrakhovich, a senior expert at the National Energy Security Fund told the newspaper. Agreeing to create a hub in Turkey indicates that Russia is not giving up attempts to retain at least some part of Europe’s market. And possibly, with some settlement of the situation in Ukraine, this plan can work but only with the customers’ consent, the expert added.

According to Mitrakhovich, technical difficulties may also emerge in the absence of a political settlement. "The first lines of the pipeline were laid by European companies and there is no certainty that Russia alone will cope with the construction at deep-water parts of the Black Sea," he explained.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Biden, Xi want to iron out US-China relations

On Monday, in Bali, the first face-to-face meeting between US and Chinese leaders will take place. The prior video conference conversations were not productive. Nevertheless, Washington wants improved communication between the two countries and hopes that the sharp downturn here can be halted. China also indicated that it did not want worsened relations. However, Chinese experts are pessimistic about the talks’ prospects. According to them, previously, economic and political issues were discussed separately yet now everything is dominated by security concerns. In 1979, the two countries formed a quasi-alliance against the USSR. Forty years later, the absence of a common enemy does not provide them the opportunity to settle their differences on Taiwan, nuclear weapons and events in Ukraine.

Wang Chong, an expert at Zhejiang International Studies University, notes that the Bali summit will take place after Xi received his party’s approval to rule the country for another five years while midterm elections in the US were favorable for Biden. This means that both sides possess significant internal support which would facilitate attempts to diminish tensions.

In a conversation with the newspaper, Scientific Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of China and Contemporary Asia Alexander Lukin noted: "For China, the most important issue is the economic one. There may be some agreements with regards to semiconductors. Yet in the US any concession to China may be viewed by some politicians as a betrayal of national interests. At the meeting, the Americans will pressure China on Ukraine, demanding that it do something to support Kiev. China won’t submit to pressure. It will reiterate that it supports peace but won’t yield to pressure. Why would it help the US who declared China its main strategic rival?"


Kommersant: EU sanctions to change calculation of Urals price

The EU embargo on Russian oil that will become effective in December made the Argus agency cardinally review the method of evaluating the price of Urals based on which the Russian government collects monthly oil taxes. Instead of quotations at destination ports (CIF Rotterdam and Augusta), Argus will receive FOB quotations at Russian ports while the value of the CIF quotation (including freight and insurance) will be determined by calculations. The Russian Finance Ministry told the newspaper that so far it will use the estimated CIF quotation while in the first quarter of 2023 it intends to discuss "the practicability of a switch to using other quotations." According to analysts, a change in the method won’t significantly impact the amount of taxes.

Argus launched Urals Primorsk and Urals Novorossiysk quotations in October, notes deputy head of the economics department of the Institute for Energy and Finance Foundation Sergey Kondratyev. Yet previously they were estimated based on the CIF quotations in Rotterdam and Augusta (with freight and insurance subtracted) and now they became "actual" based on polling market participants.

According to the expert, a problem may emerge if Argus in general refuses to give quotations to Russian oil but this has never happened even with Iranian oil.


Kommersant: Cryptocurrency market to take several years to recover after FTX collapse

The cryptocurrency market continues to steadily decline. Bitcoin has settled below $17,000 while some experts think that it can drop to $12,000 while altcoins were losing value as well. The long-awaited threshold of $100,000 won’t occur earlier than 2024-2025 if it does at all, according to analysts.

Cryptocurrencies continue to drop amid negative news from the FTX cryptocurrency exchange which was declared bankrupt, explains CEO of Cryptorg Andrey Podolyan. "FTX and one of the largest investment funds, Alameda, are interlinked and at the same time numerous crypto-projects are concentrated around the latter which they invested in. Thus, there was a chain reaction which affected the entire market," he specified.

Also, for the first time in a while there was a deviation between the cryptomarket and the US stock market, he specified. The stock market was going up while the crypto market went down, "had it not been for the events with FTX, last week could have been very positive for bulls," the expert explained.

As a result of the collapse of FTX and Alameda "the prospect of a new cryptomarket ‘bull’ cycle is being pushed far into the future," says founder of Technobit and Satoshi Spirit Alexander Peresichan. According to him, they "undermined trust in the industry both for retail and institutional investors." The expert thinks that tougher regulations at leading capital markets, namely, US, European, Asian ones, will definitely follow.

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